Living a Real Life Dream in Heels

Picture by Olga Maria - Dreams in Heels

Picture by Olga Maria - Dreams in Heels

"Dare to travel alone, you'll meet amazing people"

Recap of The Latinista: Work, Travel and Wellness event. 

Life is one hell of a journey. It moves fast and flashes before our eyes, sometimes in the directions we least expect. Many of us are standing around waiting for a sign to take a risk or to believe enough in destiny or in happenstance to take a leap of faith. Whether this be in our career, our lifelong dreams or our relationships. We choose to stay on the safe path because its comfortable, it's what we know and what we are used to. So rather than going out and taking a chance on the things we wished we could do, we spend most of our time on social media scrolling through the lives of others and daydreaming about the “what if?” I’m here to tell you, enough with the “what if?” Instead ask yourself the following question: “how will I?”

“Be a smart solo traveler. Always know where the embassy is and stay by your hotel.”

I think that all of us while living a different story, we’ve all had to overcome challenges and obstacles, and have come out alive and kicking on the other side. Now while that may make you a survivor who is alive, wouldn't you prefer to be a survivor that's truly living? The Latinista had the pleasure of hosting Dreams in Heels, Founder Olga Maria in a live conversation on how she overcame fear, challenges, rejection and followed her dreams to New York City. This Latina woman is not only a paid Traveler, Writer, Blogger, but she is living a real life career fairytale. Olga, a proud Puerto Rican, came to the US at the age of 18. “I knew I had to leave Puerto Rico, because I wouldn’t be able to complete my dreams there, so I came to NYC.” While she understood how hard it would be to leave behind all she'd ever known she shared “you have to leave what you’re used to - I knew I wanted something more.”

What many of us wouldn't have imagined while listening to this confident and vibrant woman talk us through her many accomplishments was that Olga grew up filled with insecurity. She wasn't always so brave. Olga was born with a leg condition where her achilles tendon is shorter than average. “I can’t walk with my feet flat on the ground. I walk on my tippy toes.” In school, she was made fun of, kids called her “robocop,” because of the special boots she had to wear. As she got older she realized the power of heels and how comfortable she felt in them. She did everything in heels. They changed her life, and so began “Dreams in Heels.” “I turned a negative situation into a positive one.” Olga has been taking over the world in heels one destination at a time! 

“Separate your personal life from your work life to stay motivated and inspired. Be with yourself in your own thoughts. I meditate and practice yoga. It is important to have balance. Dedicate time to your friends. Talk to people and don’t isolate yourself.”

“Traveling changes your life and it helps create your personal brand. People don’t follow you. They follow your story.” Olga explained how traveling has exposed her to a variety of different cultures and how she has truly immersed herself in those cultures. Olga has learned how to speak German, Portuguese, Turkish, and Ukrainian. She uses Google Translate when there is a language barrier with people she meets but has found that trying to speak a language has worked to her advantage. “Understanding culture makes her creative and helps her understand how to build relationships. If you understand others cultures you will close the deal.”

“Join meetups. Connect with people. Volunteer. Attend networking events. Collaborate with those who do what you want to do!” - Olga Maria

Travel hacks for buying cheap flights:

1.  Google Flights

2.  Hopper

3.  Skyscanner

Written by Cindy Cabral, Storyteller.

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Featured: Olga Maria, Leslie Garcia and The Latinista Yai Vargas.

The Confident Public Speaker: HBO

Yoshida Consulting LLC, The Latinista® and HBO's Employee Resource Group: Alianza partnered to bring a six session series called "The Confident Public Speaker".

Participants learned how to give a powerful presentation, command a room, speak with confidence, and 'tame' their nervousness while in the spotlight. They also learned how to convey their message in a powerful way, as originally intended, as we learn to overcome some of our most common cultural barriers and paradigms.

The Series included: - Six hands-on workshops (2-3 hrs. each) - Access to our full Public Speaking video library - Dynamic assignments and exercises - Networking opportunities for career advancement - A surprise gift from The Latinista and The HBO Employee Resource Group: Alianza.

Click the picture below to watch recap video:

Building The Latinista Community

"There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise"

When you think of Latina women I’m sure the first thoughts that come to your head involve high heels and ambiguous accents. I’m sure you imagine long dark hair, curvaceous bodies, loud voices and laughter. Well I’ve got news for you, yes, we do like high heels and yes, we have unique accents, but all Latina women do not look and sound the same. While societal norms have painted a one-sided picture of what the Latina woman should look and sound like, it has missed one very important key element, we are not this sexualized image that society has imprinted on us.

We are powerful, smart, driven and independent women who are working hard to break free of stereotypes and societal expectations.

All of us come from different upbringings and cultural backgrounds that have given us a unique view of the world. We have different lived experiences, different stories to share, but in mass, we have the advantage to use each other’s learnings to be better women, to be better Latinas.

The Latinista, is an organization that not only wants us to learn from one another, but it wants to give Latinas the platform to teach each other. To teach, to share, to explore, and to gain a unique knowledge base. The Latinista, wants women to feel like they have a voice. A voice that is being heard, uplifted, and used for the betterment of one another.

When I met The Latinista Founder - Yai Vargas, she shared such a passion for leadership, community and growth. She described wanting to empower women to empower each other, something she had never experienced, but wanted to create for others. She wanted to produce a space that would help Latina women gain the resources and tools needed to navigate a society that has historically been against us. Yai wants to focus on career development in a way that will make Latinas feel supported and valued for their differences, their stories, and their uniqueness. I was instantly drawn to this organization, because of the passion in her eyes and the passion in her heart.

This task of running an organization built on the support of her network has not been an easy one, but she doesn’t do it alone, she has a Chief Motivation Officer - Minue Yoshida to help. A woman whose vision for The Latinista is “we will move cielo, tierra y mar to give you what you want. Minue, is the kind of leader that doesn’t speak to be heard, she speaks to motivate, to elevate, but most importantly to understand what she can do to help the Latina community.

The Latinista is building programs and events that are changing how we think, how we network, and how we use one another for good to enable our careers. Join us on this path of togetherness, as we embark on the journey to achieve our lifelong professional goals and to continue fighting against the Latina societal construct.

Upcoming Events:

Written by Cindy Cabral, Storyteller.

Let's Talk Money


MAKERS Money (< click to watch!) is a new weekly digital series produced by MAKERS and Yahoo Finance that will show women how to achieve one goal: To "live the most badass life possible."
Hosted by Co-Founder and CEO of Ellevest, Sallie Krawcheck, MAKERS Money will help women learn how to invest, ask for a raise, save for retirement and manage your career. 

The Latinista founder Yai Vargas sat down with Sallie Krawcheck to discuss money, The Latinista and  the fact that women don’t invest as much as men do. 

“Money is power. Money evens the playing field for us as women. Money is knowledge. Money is confidence. Money is freedom. Money is, ‘Take this job and shove it,’” Krawcheck says. “And ladies, we don’t have as much money as the guys do. We not only earn less, [but] we also invest less,” says Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Founder of Ellevest, an investing platform for women. The Latinista founder, Yai Vargas was recently featured on the new financial series “MAKERS Money” on Yahoo finance, hosted by Krawcheck to discuss “money,” a topic that seems to be at the very bottom of women’s priority list.  
“When is the last time you sat down with a friend over drinks, and talked about money, Sallie asked. “Gosh, never,” our founder replied. Women talk about everything else, from sex, to relationships, to children, to fashion, but we do not talk about money. We are our limiting our financial potential by not investing in our time into learning about key money growing generators, investments being one of them.
Are women investing? What is the number one barrier to investing for women?  Krawcheck posed to Yai. “Sadly, we aren’t. The number one barrier is fear, some women are so afraid to lose everything that they are afraid to play the game. Women think their cash is safer in the bank, where they can see it.” Yai, herself has been a victim to this very thing. “The stupidest money mistake I’ve made has been,“working so hard for my money and then keeping it in the bank. I’m one of those women.” According, to Krawcheck, we are losing 9.5 annual return of investment, by keeping our money in the bank. “If you have your money in the bank your earning close to nothing.”
How do we take action? How do we begin to have these conversations? Yai, created The Latinsta for this very purpose, “I wanted to create networks of strong, knowledgeable women, who know better than us, to teach us their ways and help encourage us to take leaps.” Ladies we need to start investing our money and exchanging financial knowledge, so we can really even out the playing field. “The smartest thing I ever did was sit in front of professional to help me understand and manage my money. I sat next to someone and said teach me. I’m all ears,” Yai highlighted.

Check out the latest article on the Investing Gap and how it affects women.

We Are One of Many

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"Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women, who have their back."

This past week at the Ellevate: Challenges Facing Women of Color Today and in the Future event, I was humbled to sit in a room full of women who have this exact philosophy both personally and professionally. I listened to four women in leadership (Leliani Brown, Yai Vargas, Jennefer Witter, and Minda Harts), who spoke to their shared and unshared experiences. These women bravely and openly discussed the biases and barriers they’ve faced in the workplace not only as women, but as women of color. We all sat as one, nodding our heads in agreement, actively listening, and even laughing uncomfortably at the audacious situations women have had to face.

“Women of color are massively under-represented (and underpaid) in leadership, the executive suites, and on boards - not to mention their experiences are mostly overlooked in modern literature on women and leadership.”

Read that out loud, and take that in, not only are we under-represented, but overlooked! Yet, by 2060 we will be the majority in the workplace. As, I read that quote in the overview of the event before I attended, I grew angry yet felt empowered. I felt empowered because I know that I am not the only one. I am one of many women of color who feel a responsibility to take action for the sake of the future generations of women. Most importantly, I am one of many who want to ensure that we continue to have a shared voice.  

The question during this discussion became how do we do this? How do we take action ? How do we stimulate change rather than appear to be gripe? How do we support one another? The simple answer and the consistent one across the board for each of our panelist was “each other”, use each other for help, use each other to dissect and reflect, use each other to learn from, use each other to motivate, and use each other as allies. There was not one response that was shared by our panelists that didn't include others in their responses.

“Include allies in the conversations. Bring people into the mix. Inclusion.” Yai Vargas.
“Have alliances,  workplace alliances. Strong alliances are important.” Minda Harts

“I've had a number of mentors and sponsors either appointed to me by my company, or those who came organically.  It’s really important to have champions, not necessarily people who have the power to get you a bump in a position or raise in salary, but someone who is going to be your champion who could keep you motivated and keep you going. I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of great champions who I could turn to and ask am I doing this right, am I crazy?” Yai Vargas

“Have a champion who is in a position to help you. A high level champion, a sponsor who can push you along and is in a position to support you, promote you and advocate for you, and have a number of those. We are not suggesting everyone can be in your cheerleading squad, but you want the high level sponsor and champion to help you along.” Leliani Brown
“Never stop networking, whether out of college or a 50 year old woman, you always need to network. Develop your own personal brand, so when people think about a great social media person or HR person they will think of you immediately. Build the brand and continue to adapt the brand to keep it fresh. An effective personal brand and network to help you get through the door.” Jennefer Wetter
“We need to own ambition. Tell people who we are versus having them tell us who we are. No one will know what you want until you tell them.” Leliani Brown.
“Make professional development your own responsibility, don’t necessarily put an increase in salary or promotion on your manager. Set up your own goals.” Yai Vargas  

The key thing to overcoming the challenges that women of color face in the workplace will continue to be the need for support from “others”, no matter what experience, race, ethnicity, sex, age, job role, etc. We need humanity! We need humans to remember that we are in this together! We need the collective fight and the empathy of others. We can’t do this alone. There is so much left for us to accomplish, and while our voices have been louder than ever, they need to continue to be heard.

I challenge you, whether you’re a woman of color, or an ally, to be a part of the conversation, be someone who mentors someone else, be a part of someones growing network, be someone's champion and remember that our future generations depend on us to “move the needle” to inspire, and create change. This isn't a one person job, it’s “our job.”

Written by Cindy Cabral, Storyteller.

“Shifting Career Dreams and Purpose” Featuring Cessie Cerrato

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"One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years."

Cuban American, Cessie Cerrato, has been living and breathing the New York City dream for the past three years. Not only did she leave her native city of Miami to take on the Big Apple, but she has truly embodied what it means to shift your dreams and purpose and still make it out alive and kicking. From a young age, Cessie always wanted to be on television, specifically as a news reporter. She attended the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, and truly believed that it was her calling, but as most of you know life happens and dreams change.

“I had an epiphany, while I was covering a story I wasn’t passionate about for a small local station I was working with and I realized, I wasn’t in love with the industry as a whole, only party of it. And an industry like that, you’re either all in, or you’re not. I didn’t love what I was doing.”

We could all relate to this in some shape or form. We have all had a moment in time where we felt like “this is not for me.” The reality is that it’s okay to leave a career when you don’t love it anymore and it’s okay to leave all you’ve ever known because perceptions change. Cessie did just that! She took a life experience, and used it as her fuel to look deeper in herself to figure out what she wanted and how she was going to get it. “I started to think about who I was and what I was good at and thought I’m a people person. I’m sociable. I love to travel, I love telling a story, and I am passionate about connecting- so I decided to try public relations.”

She started working in PR at small media agencies which translated to opportunities in the hospitality and luxury travel industry that ultimately landed her an opportunity with Palace Resorts. Seven years later, her successes and performance within the company granted her the opportunity to leave Miami and work remotely from NYC.

“It was always my dream to live in New York City and my hard work spoke to my abilities to be able to do my job remotely. After all, New York City is the center of the universe when it comes to media, it all happens here first.”

Cessie currently serves as the Senior Director of Public Relations where she has the opportunity to do the things she loves: promote the luxury & hospitality industry, travel, network, connect people and bring stories to life.

She has visited numerous major cities, met great people, been a part of some huge global hospitality ventures, but most importantly, learned that while her work progression is important she wants to continue to give back to her community. Cessie mentioned that while she worked hard to get to where she is, she recognizes that there were significant people who helped her along the way and in return she hopes do the same for others.  “I’ve had awful bosses, the kinds that show you what you never want to be. And then the rare kinds that take the time to grow you, while mentoring you and help you achieve greatness. Both are essential in the journey, because each teach you invaluable lessons. I want to do the same for others, because I think there is a huge gap in the role that women play when it comes to helping each other, versus competing against each other. I currently serve as mentor for the PRSA NY chapter and I am supporting them with “Dress for Success” initiatives.

"My future in NYC is an blank canvas really, the opportunities are endless.”

Cessie is continuing to explore all that NYC has to offer and is doing it fabulously. You can check out her NYC adventures on her blog where she is highlighting her journey, while continuing to dedicate herself to growing professionally and personally. Cessie has learned that while NYC can be challenging, (and the city is painfully expensive), there is nowhere else she’d rather be.

"NYC has something in the air that makes you want to hustle harder. The hustle is real."

Written by Cindy Cabral, storyteller.